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Cedar Hill Elementary designated 2016 National Blue Ribbon School

Montville Board of Education congratulates faculty, staff and administration

On Tuesday November 15, 2016 Cedar Hill Elementary School was honored by the Montville Township Board of Education. Cedar Hill was named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education in September. On November 7 and 8 Cedar Hill Principal Dr. Michael Raj, Cedar Hill Reading Specialist Anne Fisher and Montville Township Public Schools Superintendent Dr. René Rovtar attended a conference and awards ceremony in Arlington, Virginia. The Towaco-based school received 2016 National Blue Ribbon School status in the category of “Exemplary High Performing.”

Cedar Hill is one of only 279 public and 50 private schools in the nation to receive a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School award.

“This award represents less than one-half of one present of all the public schools in the nation,” Rovtar said.

Raj added that ten New Jersey schools won the 2016 National Blue Ribbon School designation, but only four were traditional, open-enrollment public schools, making this an even more unique honor.

“This is truly the kind of honor that is a team effort,” said Rovtar. “It involves all levels of the school community from students and parents to faculty, staff and administration.”

During the board of education meeting Raj explained that the National Blue Ribbon School Award is not something a school can decide to apply for.

“Cedar Hill was nominated by the New Jersey State Department of Education,” Raj explained.

Raj, who noted that he was humbled by the nomination, said he did not know Cedar Hill was being considered for such an honor until he was notified by the State Board of Education that they had been tracking the school’s ongoing excellence for several years and had nominated Cedar Hill to the US Department of Education. At that point, Cedar Hill was invited to apply.

Raj did add that at a conference about two years ago, someone he did not know had approached him and said, “You’re from Cedar Hill School in Montville? I hear a lot of good talk about Cedar Hill School in Trenton.”

Looking back on that encounter, Raj stated that he felt that much of the credit for the school’s state, and now national, standing should be given to Reading Specialist Anne Fisher. He explained that every year following the release of annual standardized test scores, Fisher compiles and analyses data for each student and classroom. Every fall, before the school year begins, Fisher meets with each teacher to discuss individual and classroom strengths and identified areas of improvement. A specific plan is put in place to assist each student and class.

To complete the Blue Ribbon School application Raj asked several teachers to serve on the application committee. Cedar Hill teachers Dr. Cathy Lundquist, Katelyn Kung, Anne Fisher, Janice Koch, Stephanie Malgieri and Maureen Livera volunteered take on the massive project. For more than three months they worked both independently and in teams to complete the extensive process. Writing, editing, rewriting and proofing, the team ultimately took two days to review the final application.

Raj noted that the attention to detail paid off and the application passed the first stage of the review process “with no edits required.”

According to the US Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School website, “’Exemplary High Performing’ schools have their state’s highest high school graduation rates and the highest achieving students (the top 15%) in English and mathematics, measured by state assessments.”